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Developing and Validating Practical Strategies to Improve Microbial Safety in Composting Process Control and Handling Practices


Compost as soil amendment and organic fertilizer is a major source of nutrients for plant
growth. Although the high temperatures generated by microbial activities during active
composting can inactivate pathogens, the survival or regrowth of foodborne pathogens during
composting process or in the finished compost can be problematic for vegetable production. <P>

This proposed study uses a systems approach to address pathogen control during composting
process and subsequent storage and handling of finished products, develop and validate some
practical strategies, which can be readily adopted by composting operators or growers.<P>
In this
proposed study, we'll validate the thermal inactivation data of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in
compost using naturally occurring isolates; optimize and validate the finished compost as
physical covering and straw as the base of passive static compost heaps and windrow compost
piles; apply the pathogen growth model to determine the potential of finished composts to
support the pathogen growth, and investigate the growth, survival, and control of food borne
pathogens in the finished compost. <P>
The results from this study will provide practical methods or
practices on compost production and handling to eliminate or reduce pathogen contamination
of compost, thereby helping produce industry to grow safe products for human consumption.

Jaing, Xuiping
Clemson University
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